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For someone who has one or more higher degrees than the bachelor's, under what circumstances (if any) should they omit their bachelor's degree from their resume?

As a concrete example, I have a master's degree and part of part of a PhD (i.e. it's incomplete). The bachelor's degree is in the same field as the other two, but from a lesser-known institution. It's obvious that I have a bachelor's, so it seems to just be wasting space.

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You should list it. It's a big part of your academic career. Yes, it's implied that you have it, but it shows how your focus and objectives have evolved as you matured. A bachelor's in computer science, followed by an MBA in International Business tells me a lot more than just an MBA in International Business (throwing out an example).

"Lesser-known" institutions - this tells me you're really still "stuck" in the academic mindset. The only thing employers (should) care about is whether or not the program and college are accredited, and whether or not you earned the degree. That bachelor's under a master's and a PhD doesn't look any different coming from Carnegie Mellon or Chadron State College in Nebraska.

Remember - your degree doesn't get you the job. The degree should get you the interview. YOU have to get the job.

  • 1
    Agreed. The Bachelor's degree forms the foundation of your education. An exception might be if the potential employer requests a one-page resume or less. While strong universities do play a role, what matters is your latest achievement. You might have flipped burgers for a living in your teenage years but it won't hurt your resume if you've worked at NASA recently. – Muz Oct 25 '14 at 5:21
  • I'd add that I wouldn't list the incomplete PhD. – jcm Oct 25 '14 at 6:54
  • What Wesley said is good, but I'd list the phd if you're ABD (as ABD). – Brandon Oct 25 '14 at 21:57
  • List all three (Mark PhD as ABD). The hiring manager is unlikely to care what University you studied at. He want to know if you can do the work. The HR department definitely does not care about university they want to match keywords to job descriptions and put you in-front of a hiring manager to make the choice. – Martin York Oct 26 '14 at 16:23
  • I personnally would list all the degrees and the PHd with an ETA for gradutation and what schools they came from be it known or unknown. Ultimately the critical point is if it's acreditted, but you never know who does and doesn't know what schools, and if I know a school turns out excellent grads it's a leg up over an unknown. (I've never had someone give me a resume with no school listed with the degree... I'd find it odd, your resume should provide me awnsers specifically why I should hire you, not questions.) – RualStorge Oct 27 '14 at 4:00
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You should list both your bachelor and masters degree in chronological order. Your employer will almost certainly verify your degrees, and will ask you about it anyway.

I would also NOT LIST the incomplete Ph.D. Listing an incomplete degree will never help you (no one gets a job by ALMOST having a bachelor degree). It may confuse the interviewer, who assumes they will be hiring a Ph.D. You may be put in a position where you have to correct this during the interview (bad), explain the situation to HR after you start (worst), or have it come to light years after the fact (see Yahoo ex-CEO Scott Thompson).

Never worry that going to a less prestigious school for your BA/BS is going to negatively affect your prospects. I went to a smaller state school to save money for my BS, then got an assistantship to attend a better know university for grad-school. No one has ever asked why I choose to attend the smaller school for undergrad.

EDIT

While you should not list a ADB Ph.D., you should list every GRA/GTA position, internship, papers published etc. This will fill in the blank left by the Ph.D., and show that you kept yourself busy during the years between your Master and now.

  • Agreed. Omitting the bachelor degree is only going to bring it more attention and make them question the other degrees and time-lines. – user8365 Oct 27 '14 at 13:02
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I would always list it, even as a single line.

The only time I perhaps wouldn't list it would be if I did a Bachelors followed immediately by a Masters in the same subject, ie in 4 consecutive years (or whatever it took you) as in some areas it's possible to do an MSc as a single course in this way.

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I am going to offer a counterpoint: if space-saving is the reason you would like to cut the Bachelors out, I say that is acceptable. It is clearly a bit of a taboo to do so, as is apparent from the responses here and elsewhere. However, the résumé's purpose is to be an advertisement for you. If the Bachelor's degree does not add any substance to that, and it is taking away too much valuable space, I say cut it. A single line that no one will pay attention to might not be worth it.

Take this with a grain of salt: I am not a hiring manager, and my only experience is crafting my own résumés for job hunting. It would be interesting to hear a response from a hiring manager or recruiter regarding this perspective.

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